Evan Peters' character Charles says, "That's what I love about photography. If you look at it long enough, you get to see what it's really showing you." This quote not only beautifully sums up the movie Safelight, but life itself.
The movie has a cast of damaged characters who all take a little while to get to truly know. Charles is a cripple who has lost almost everyone in his life that is important to him. Juno Temple's character Vicki is a prostitute who works at a truck stop who has no contact with her family whatsoever. Kevin Alejandro's character Skid is an addict who is lost in the world and finds himself together with Vicki. Christine Lahti's character Peg is a single woman that works at a truck stop and has sworn off all men. Jason Beghe's character Eric is a sick, dying, old man with a passion for cars and motorcycles - who also happens to be Charles' father.
But as the movie progresses, you learn more about each of these characters and understand them more deeply - if only slightly with each new bit. The movie truly is a marvel and a wonder to watch.
Here's the trailer for proof:
After getting the chance to watch the movie, I was given the opportunity to interview Kevin Alejandro, who played Skid, about his experience being a part of the production of Safelight. Here's what we had to talk about:
Upon first meeting Skid, he comes across as a bully. But, as the movie goes along, I realized there is much more to him than that. How would would you describe your character?
He's sort of a lost child, and severely damaged and looking for someone to love the only way he knows how. Throughout the film, he's the interpretation of a man going through life trying to figure out why he is so hurt and trying to put a band-aid over it throughout the course of his life.
Because he's so damaged, do you think that's why Skid tried becoming so close with Charles?
Yeah, absolutely. I think he recognizes that Charles reminds him of himself a little bit. There's a line in the film where he says, "You and me, we're a lot alike," and I think he truly believed that. They both suffer, Charles is more physical and Skid was more mental, but they both suffer from something. And that was something he could gravitate to and empathize with and understand.
There isn't a lot of information on Skid's background - who he was like before, what made him into who he is today, or even his real name. Did you have any insights into who he was?
None of that was ever really scripted. But I created a lot of my own backstories. I pulled a lot from my own personal life. I came from a broken home and I went through a tough time myself. I was abused and beaten - that kind of thing as a child. And I pulled from that, and that's the sort of world that wounded Skid. So, Skid was a very wild, over-the-top version of my stepfather. It wasn't an easy journey, to tap in to and go back to that and remember that. He's sort of a monster, but to give him humanistic reasons why he's so damaged helped me realize a lot about people like that. It was a really interesting journey. I hate those kinds of people - not the people, but their actions. It made me realize that they're just kids trying to find some sort of happiness and they don't know what it is and that just makes them go crazy.
Moving away from the characters themselves and into the cast, you had a very small cast. What was it like being able to hang out with such a close cast?
I loved it. And that was the first time I met Juno and Evan. I was really impressed, I would just sit back and watch them work. I loved to see them do their thing because they were so subtle, which was the exact opposite of me and the character of Skid. I learned a lot from those two, actually. They were just true professionals. And we got along pretty well, too. When there's only about three of you, you have to.
After portraying Skid and after your experience with your stepfather, did that influence you in any way on how to act around your own son?
I think with everyone, every event that happens in your life whether you take it as a positive or negative affects how you act in the future. And for me, with what I went through, I know that I will never put my kid through that. Some people stay caught in that world of hurt that they can't escape and they blame that situation on why their lives are the way they are. I'm fortunate to be able to not do that and actually look at the positive things that came out of those terrible experiences. I think I'm a pretty damn good father and husband. I contribute it all to what I saw growing up and knowing what not to do.
Now for the obligatory nerdy question: You played Sebastian Blood on Arrow, and I was wondering if you knew if he was coming back or not? Or if you had the option to come back, would you?
Presently, there has been no talk of him coming back, but it is the comic world. Anything could happen. If I had the opportunity, I would 100% take it. I loved being on that show.
I'm actually starting a new one, a new Fox show called Lucifer - also in the DC Comics world - coming out next year. Look out for that on, it should be fun. I think people are gonna like it. As for my character, I'm pretty much Lucifer's nemesis in the show. I'm there to butt heads with him, to find out who and what he is.
This movie was truly moving. It's slow going and not as eye-catching as the explosions found in Avengers or Hunger Games, but this movie is worth the watch and has more meaning than all of those movies combined. The cast is incredible, the emotions are real, and there is true pain in all their lives that helps to tell the story. As the audience, we manage to hope that every single one of them finds that happiness they each so badly deserve.
After talking with Kevin Alejandro and seeing how much of an impact the movie itself had on him as a person, I was even more moved by the movie. It truly is fantastic and it tugs at your heartstrings in a way I once thought only Pixar movies could.
I would like to say thank you to Kevin Alejandro and to Moviepilot for giving me this wonderful opportunity. Now, go out and watch Safelight - which came out today, July 17, 2015.